If one of your New Year’s resolutions is decreasing your carbon footprint, shopping for and eating less meat are probably some things you’re thinking about in 2022. The meat, starch, and vegetable dinner blueprint many of us grew up with can be hard to shake, and for good reason, as a reliable formula is key to getting dinner on the table on busy weeknights. With a few simple swaps, going meatless will be easier than you think.
Here are the keys to creamy, gnocchi with meaty flavor (but without the meat):
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms are one of the best ingredients to turn to when cutting down on meat because they offer two valuable benefits. First, when nicely browned in a skillet, they provide that slightly chewy, substantial texture that can only be described as meaty. Second, they are chock full of glutamates, which like anchovies and soy sauce, contribute loads of umami flavor.
- Parmesan: Ah, our next favorite glutamate-rich ingredient. If you’ve ever cooked with Parmesan cheese, you are well aware of the complex savory flavor it contributes to any dish. We whisk it right into the cream to infuse the sauce with a cheesy bite while helping to thicken it.
- Vegetable Broth: Instead of chicken broth or beef broth, we simply swap store-bought vegetable broth, which helps the mushroom cream sauce come together smoothly.
- Heavy Cream: Meat offers plenty of flavor, but it also contributes lots of richness, especially when using a higher-fat cut like bacon, skin-on chicken thighs, or sausage. In addition to a few tablespoons of butter, just a ¼ cup of heavy cream rounds out the dish with the richness you might be missing without meat.
“This may have come together quickly but it’s got a ton of rich mushroom flavor,” Ashley says. If mushrooms aren’t your thing, you can put store bought gnocchi to use in a creamy tomato sauce that is just as rich and satisfying.